In the 69-year-history of the Miss Universe Competition, Amparo Munoz is the first and only Spanish beauty queen to win the prestigious pageant.
Amparo instantly became the darling of Filipinos when she was crowned at the 1974 Miss Universe beauty pageant held in the Philippines, succeeding Margie Moran, the second Miss Universe from Manila.
Behind the glitz and glamour, Amparo became one of the controversial winners of Miss Universe. Her pageant reign was short-lived and poignant after it was marred with arguments and other issues.
Amparo reportedly gave up the crown after she refused to travel to Japan to fulfil her duties as titleholder. There were no clear reasons as to why she chose to resign six months after she was crowned. But pageant organizers did not appoint any queens as her replacement when she left.
Amparo was reportedly headstrong and tempestuous. Allegedly, there were times she was hostile to staff members and pageant officials. Unconfirmed reports said that the beauty queen even threw her crown against the wall, smashing it to pieces.
Pilar Aldenese, translator of Amparo during the pageant in Manila, defended the Spanish beauty queen. Amparo was young and needed to be told what to do, Pilar said. She also noted that Amparo was homesick during the pageant in Manila because she missed her boyfriend in Spain.
Even before she became a beauty queen, Amparo was already an actress and a model in her country. In the Philippines, Amparo starred in the 1983 film “Hayop Sa Ganda” opposite former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz. It was in this flick that Amparo had an altercation with Filipino talent manager Natalie Palanca.
When the beauty queen returned to Barcelona, Spain, she was arrested for alleged possession of heroin.
Several years later, there were reports that the Amparo was diagnosed with HIV and was dying from it. But she debunked the allegations when she was interviewed by Cronica, a Spanish newspaper. In the same report, she revealed that she suffered from a cerebral disease and not AIDS.
Amparo got married three times. Her first husband was actor-singer Patxi Andion who, according to her memoir, crushed her dreams. She added that living with Paxti was like living in hell.
In 1980, Amparo tied the knot with Chilean Flavio Labarca who, she claimed, brought drugs into her life. Her third husband was businessman Victor Santiago Rubio Guijarro. They got separated after three years.
Amparo wrote her tell-all memoir entitled “La Vida es Elprecio (Life is a Price) in 2005. She recounted her failed relationships and the abortion that she went through twice in life. “I’ve lived my life the best I could, never intending to harm anyone. If I have hurt anyone, it has been myself and my parents, who have suffered a great deal on my account. I’ve always respected everyone, most of all God, though I haven’t been treated with respect myself. I hope that people will start to do that now.”
A few years before Amparo passed on, there were attempts from several news outfits to interview her. She declined, saying she does not want to be seen in an ugly state.
On Feb. 27, 2011, Amparo died at the age of 56. She suffered a cerebral aneurysm that made half of her body paralyzed. She was surrounded by her family at the time of her death in Malaga, Spain. Her gravestone is marked at the Roman Catholic Cemetery of Saint Michael in Malaga. (Merciely A. Salvador/City of Malabon University)